Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

I’m at the International Association for Women in Philosophy conference in Melbourne, and while chatting with a younger colleague during the coffee break I had the opportunity to tell her “It can be done. I have a permanent position in my field in a city and university I love with great colleagues, a happy marriage, and a child. It can be done.”

I’ve been reading this blog for years always with a sense of disbelief. The blog is not expressive of what it’s been like for THIS woman in philosophy, and I find it really depressing to read nothing but horror stories, as if that’s all there is to the experience of being a woman in philosophy. I think people would benefit from seeing positive examples, too.


Posted: June 27, 2016 by jennysaul in Bad news, Children, Uncategorized

Few years ago I was working at a university as Research Assistant in the Philosophy Department. I was there more than a year working with a senior female professor in the area of female thinker of the country. One day when my baby sitter was unwell I took my one year old daughter with me to the department as there was no one at home to take care of. Whole day I was sitting in my room working. Next day I was told that they do not need my assistance anymore.

Later I found out that one of the male faculty (he said that I shouldn’t be bringing kids to the workplace)in the department complained that he was terribly disturbed because my daughter was making noise. Actually she was sleeping half time and other half she was in the garden with some of my friends. Even the female professor I was working with made a hasty decision to remove me from job without giving me a chance to say anything.

One fine day I lost my job, after that I continued teaching philosophy and other stuff but I lost a good opportunity to work.

Well, I’d say it’s just like being a woman in general: tougher, more badass, and (*oh lord did she really say it*) better. I’ve never liked the expression “man, you need to grow a pair” (or any of its equivalents), but to highlight the message it tries to convey behind its childish facade, it does indeed take something extra – and no, not ‘a pair’ – to be a woman in philosophy.

It takes courage.

As opposed to the situation for our male counterparts, it seems to be demanded of women a primary explanation as to why we – being non-male – are even here, at the up until recently males only party known as philosophy. In other words, before we can Do, we must Defend.

This is unfair.**

Still, the lack of fairness at this “party” does not mean that we, i.e. women, can’t have one heck of a night. In fact, I argue, we are the ones who can go home and rightfully say “Not only did I work some philosophical magic today, but I also made the world a bit better.”

Because regardless how many questions, frowns or any type of belittling looks are thrown upon us, we Stay and we Do philosophy.

And this makes being a woman in philosophy tougher, more badass, and (*you bet your bum she said it*) better.

**Clarification of statement just made: to treat x with less respect than y due to a discriminatory cause is unfair, and any average philosopher will (hopefully) agree on that.

Which one is sexist?

Posted: June 3, 2016 by jennysaul in Uncategorized

In the article I used the following utterance as an example: “OMG!! The exam was soooo hard, my head literally exploded!” I used it as an example for how we sometimes use words (in this case ‘literally’) to convey the exact opposite of these words’ literal or conventional meaning. I added that “while most of us will rightly infer that the speaker is an overly dramatic teenage girl, and interpret the sentence accordingly, an interpreter who adheres only to the conventional meaning of ‘literally’ will be very surprised and even worried by such an exclamation.”

The reviewer had some legitimate reservations about this example, but I was struck by their prefatory remark that “these cutesy examples should be eliminated in academic papers, I think. The example is borderline sexist…”

While I did treat the example humorously, and attributing the utterance to a teenage girl is admittedly stereotypical, I was surprised by how it was received, because I was actually trying to diversify the range of examples traditionally used in philosophy of language, and imply that the ways teenage girls (again, stereotypically) talk are equally legitimate, and deserve academic consideration. I think it is sexist to call the example cutesy, implying that it has less theoretical weight, so my immediate reaction was to attribute the comment to the reviewer being an OWM. But perhaps this example and the way it is presented do backfire, which I would of course like to avoid. What do you say?

I did my M.A in philosophy in east Asia, which is more of a Confucian Tradition. When I was interviewed for admission, one of the Confucian professors said that girls are simply not fit for higher education. When I took a Confucian course taught by another professor, I heard him say something like “the contribution females can make to philosophy is to become a supportive wife of a great philosopher.”

I am a female student of philosophy at a German University, writing my master thesis. Over the last years I became more and more aware of male dominance in society in general and in philosophy in particular and this makes it harder for me to bear more and more meetings, seminars, talks, conferences, colloquia etc.

I try to change the situation at our Institute: I talk to my fellow students (male and female alike), organize workshops on women* in philosophy and power structures in seminars, but it won`t change anything.

Now the semester began and I hear man talking, hear man fighting, see man sitting where women should sit and talk and many even fight as well. These man are nice or ok as individuals, but unbearable in groups, because they don`t want to know. They don`t want to know about their priviliges, there status, their society-given right to be wherever they want to be and to say whatever they want to say without being questioned their right to speak at all. And therefore they don`t care.

Their only way to connect to critique of male-oriented behaviour is by re-recognizing situations, for example then they can say: But I am nervous by speaking out loud just as you are! NO! This is not the same! You do not get discriminated because of your gender!

I do love philosophy, I want to do a ph.d., but I really don`t know if I can stand these male environment for a couple of years more. It makes me angry, sad and sick of after each meeting. It preoccupies my mind, keeps me away from work, makes me questioned, if this is worth it.

And in case male readers may wonder: I am nonetheless quite good in what I am doing.


Posted: March 2, 2016 by jennysaul in assumptions about women, sexual innuendos, Uncategorized

A few years ago, I was working with one of my professors to prepare a co-authored paper for publication. This professor was keen on having our meetings over lunch. I didn’t really approve, and I tried several times to convince the professor to have our meetings over coffee, without much success. I was told, however, that there’s nothing wrong with this, unless it turns out that there is. So, I continued to go to lunch with this professor and we talked about the paper, but I always felt uncomfortable (we probably went about 10 times in total).

This story, however, is not about the professor — nothing untoward happened. It’s about one of my fellow students, at the time. One day, this student found himself in the same venue as the professor and me, during lunchtime. We said ‘hello’ and then processed with business as usual. My fellow student was otherwise engaged, so he didn’t sit with us.

Later in the day, when people were gathering for a talk, and while only students were in the room, this fellow student asks me, loud and clear:

X, does your husband know you’re meeting with professor Y over lunch?

I started saying that I resent the implication, although not the one he’s clearly making. And that I won’t dignify such a question with an answer. To which, my fellow student said something to the effect that he made a joke and that I don’t have a sense of humor.

No one else said anything, although other students were holding their breaths to see if this will become a quarrel.

I left the table, went back to a corner and tried hard to focus on the talk.